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Published: Aug 16, 2022 5 min read
Picturesque photo of Nashua in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire
Nashua, New Hampshire
Getty Images

The Northeast is emerging as a hotspot for homebuyers looking for charm, fresh air and affordability — as well as close proximity to the big city experience.

Six of the top 10 towns highlighted in Realtor.com’s new Hottest Zip Codes Report are in New England and one more is in upstate New York. Realtor.com says these housing markets are hot based on buyer interest. Homes sold fast in these cities, closing in just eight days on the market on average. They also had four times more unique views on Realtor.com than the typical listing in the U.S.

Homebuyers have been facing affordability challenges at least since the start of 2022, when mortgage rates started to rise dramatically, increasing by more than 2 percentage points in a six-month span. With high home prices and rising rates, buyers are looking for alternatives to big city living, often while still staying relatively close to their workplaces.

“With rising inflation and mortgage rates squeezing monthly housing budgets, this year’s determined buyers are breathing new life into competition for homes in historic areas like New England,” Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com, said in a press release announcing the list.

The rise of remote work and flexible work schedules has enabled many buyers to look beyond traditional employment hubs. While some homebuyers are seeking more affordable housing in more remote areas, others are staying closer to their base of operations while still taking advantage of lower home prices, more space or both.

The cities included in the 2022 Hottest Zip Codes report “illustrate how many Americans are redefining their priorities to achieve homeownership while building their careers,” added Hale.

10 hottest cities to buy a home

  1. Brighton, New York
  2. Nashua, New Hampshire
  3. Worthington, Ohio
  4. Derry, New Hampshire
  5. Windham, Maine
  6. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
  7. Johnson City, Tennessee
  8. Hooksett, New Hampshire
  9. North Attleboro, Massachusetts
  10. Auburn, Maine

Nine of the 10 cities are on the list for the time in the eight-year history of the report. The median list price of properties in these cities is $432,000, 4% lower than the national median. (Note that refers to the median list price; the median sales price in the U.S. now stands at $413,500.)

The list’s top city, Brighton, is located just a nine-minute drive away from Rochester, New York, home to large corporations such as Baxter, Johnson & Johnson and Xerox. Homebuyers in this area tend to have a higher income compared to the national average — $106,150 vs. $72,465. That income can go a lot farther for a home purchase as well. The median listing price in Brighton was $275,000, well below the national median list price.

Nashua, New Hampshire, is the second most popular on the list. It is just 42 miles away from Boston and attracts most of its buyers (38%) from that city. While the median list price of $536,000 is higher than the national median, it is much lower than the median of $759,000 in Boston proper. Homes in Nashua are in high demand, spending an average of just seven days active on the market.

Millennial homebuyers drive hot housing markets

The upswing in popularity in these towns is led by millennials who are coming into their homebuying prime. More buyers of this generation have purchased homes in these cities compared to other urban centers across the country (57% vs 51%).

Millennial buyers in these cities are also better off financially than most, according to the report. Buyers between the ages of 25 to 34 earn an average income of $83,782. The national average for this age group is $70,510. Buyers between the ages of 34 and 45 earn an average of $100,966, compared to the national average of $89,365.

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